Thursday, 9 August 2018

Orchestra fill in...well kinda

All my kids are in bands/ensembles/orchestras. It's great, I never got that when I was a young aspiring musician. Playing in groups teaches you good skills. My youngest daughter's string orchestra, in which she plays cello, recently invited parents to join in, whatever instrument you have. Why not eh?

A few of us turned up, a clarinet player, some violinists and me on guitar. I pulled up a chair next to my daughter, but cello is bass clef and I can't read bass clef fluently. I moved back a little, and hit violas, they have that other clef. I can't read that one at all. Pulling back further, violin 3. Treble clef. All good, I stand a chance of reading that.

The music was new to the orchestra, first time seeing for everyone, they are all primary school kids and novices, but it wasn't "simple". Check key signature, there's an F# and a C#, okay, I'm pretty sure that means it's in some key, I will remember to play those notes sharp. A bunch of quarter notes, interspersed with eighth notes, oh, it's 3/4 time; it's a waltz.  Yeah, I got this.

Off goes the conductor, yep, I'm good. 4 bars later whoa, the conductor has slowed down...no wait, I'm speeding up!  Oh, oops, that was three eighth notes and then an eighth rest then a quarter note.  Uh oh, where am I? Looking for a hook back in...looking...looking...

Ha ha. I got a bit better on the second and third play through, and then better still in the next song, but wow! These kids are doing better than me! I thanked the conductor afterwards for the opportunity to join in, and for reminding me my ability to sight read is poor, and my tempo is even worse.

Bottom line is when you are largely self taught, and have only ever played solo, jumping into a band or ensemble or orchestra does not come natural. I said to one of the mums afterwards "If I grabbed a heap of pieces and sight read them playing to a metronome for a while I would get much better at this...but what would I do that for?" :-)

I do however encourage you to play in a group, and learn to read music as part of your musical adventure, especially if you are not getting tuition. I do feel like I missed out not playing in groups.

Not to be perturbed, I sat down later that night, turned on the mic and played Dark Side of the Moon through. I do this at least once a week, I really want to keep it at a good level and develop it further. I stuffed up and restarted twice during Great Gig in the Sky, which I edited out of the audio, but the rest is all warts and all like you were sitting with me. I record stuff occasionally to listen back to see how I sound, helps me to know what expressions and dynamics to concentrate on. I should be able to _play_ it to start with, the icing on the cake is putting the emotion into it.

So here it is, not because I recorded something beautiful that I want you to hear, but because I had already put it on the web so I could listen to it at work, and adding a link to a blog is pretty straight forward.

Enjoy!
JAW

FotM 8 Aug 2018:

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